What not to write


Newsflash: I’m a biased reporter. And the odd thing is that the longer I’ve been reporting, rather than getting more “objective” I’ve actually gotten more honest about what my opinions are in my writing. This has especially increased since I’ve started writing this column. 

I don’t write about politics very often.  I think it would drive me nuts. But I had an experience this week when perhaps my personal politics got in the way (or influenced, in any case) a piece I was writing about the Children and Youth Issues Briefing.

The thing is, you can’t write everything everybody says at these conferences. The whole conference took several hours, and there were lots of really smart people offering up ideas for the future of education in Minnesota. 

But I’ll admit it — there was one particular person that I didn’t quote, and that had partially to do with my political prejudices. Speaker of the House Representative Kurt Zellers was a featured speaker at the conference. He started talking, and I had an instinctive reaction of wanting to cover my ears and say “lalalala” for his fifteen minute speech (For the record — I did not do this.) 

As I was sitting there, I just didn’t understand why Zellers was even invited to speak at the event. Here were all these people, talking about how children can’t learn if they are hungry, if they don’t have a safe home, and Zellers is one of the Republicans who in 2011 voted to cut higher ed, reduce mental health services, repeal Medicare expansion, reduce services for the disabled, poor and elderly, and reduce mass transit funding, according to MPR’s votetracker. 

He spoke about his support for the Shubert Theater, especially because it contained an online learning component, and said he has supported initiatives that make sure every kid has physical education classes.  So that’s good, I guess. He talked about wanting to support getting kids interested in “tinkering”, so that Minnesota produces more engineers, especially women. At the end of his speech, he encouraged everyone to support education through charities and nonprofits.

You know, charities are all well and good, but one of the major points about the whole forum is that if we are going to get out of the “state of emergency” for education in our state right now,we need a statewide effort. That means investing in our education system but also making sure that health and human services are not cut from the budget, so that all kids come to school and learn without being hungry or homeless. 

So here I am outing myself. I cannot and will never be totally objective, but I figure if I’m going to let my biases influence my writing, I can at least tell you about it.